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How to Start An Online Clothing Boutique Business
Starting an online clothing boutique can be a dream come true, and you may envision the day when your products are shipped to customers across the country or beyond. Whether you want to open an online clothing boutique for men, women, children or the entire family, you want to ensure that you do everything possible to get your venture off the ground with a positive foot. While you can learn many things along the way, there are some things that you must think about up front before you start your business.
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Your Niche Market
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First, you will need to think about which niche market you are trying to reach with your goods. Everything from the price of your goods to how you will market them to your audience will be based in part on who your market is. Some online clothing boutiques appeal to the masses with discounted merchandise for the whole family. Others may only appeal to trendy teens or fashion forward men. Take time to define who your niche market is initially, and keep your target audience in mind with all of the decisions that you make about your business.
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Your Marketing Approach
Your marketing approach is critical with an online boutique. Your main source of advertising may be the Internet, but there are various online marketing avenues to consider. For example, social media marketing, banner ads and more. You may also consider email advertising and even offline advertising like mailers, radio spots and television ads. Think about who your audience is and where they may be most likely to see your advertising. Remember that you will want them to be exposed to your brand in different ways, so avoid placing all of your marketing efforts solely in one area.
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The Supply Logistics
You may think about the different methods available for supply logistics as well. Think about where your goods will be manufactured and how they will travel to your shipping distribution site. Consider how much inventory you need to keep in stock in your warehouse in order to provide customers with rapid delivery of the items they order. If items are not in stock, how quickly will they be received in your warehouse and available for shipment? Remember that many customers prefer to have their items shipped to them without delay, but there is a cost associated with you holding excess merchandise in stock in your facility. Managing supply logistics is important for customer service as well as for cost containment.
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The functional consideration of keeping products well-maintained in your warehouse and in packaging them for distribution to customers is also important. Think about if you will need hangers from a company like National Hanger Company to minimize wrinkles and deformation of clothing while the items are in your facility. After all, stacking packaged clothing may lead to wrinkles, and the clothing may not be in quality condition when it arrives at your customer's location. Plastic wrapping and labeling is often required in order to prevent damage to the clothes while en route to customers.
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As a final point, think about how you will maintain contact with your customers. You want to ensure that they are satisfied with their purchase after the sale. You also want to remain visible to them for future purchases. It can take a considerable amount of time and money to get a new customer to make a purchase, but it may take fewer resources to convince a satisfied previous customer to make a purchase.
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Each of these important points should be considered carefully when you are opening an online clothing boutique. When you focus on these points, you may be more likely to start your venture on a successful foot.
Starting An Online Clothing Boutique - Step by Step Guide
Do you have love for fashion? Do you want to start your own online boutique business making people look great while at the same time making good money doing so? Then look no further.
This article will help you plan and start your very own online boutique business, without any previous experience about online marketing and very little money, but just a little fashion-scene and some networking skills.
Define your Target Market/Niche
Like all business ventures, you need to know your target market. Who are the potential customers/clients that will buy items from your online boutique store? Are you targeting the rich, the middle class? Or are you looking to attract the young middle-aged or the old?
You need to know your potential niche and the current fashion trends in your chosen niche. Once you have made up your mind, you’re good to go!
Arrange for Good Suppliers, Vendors/Clothing Distributor
Yes, your boutique is online but you’re still going to sell the items to real people, so the next thing you need to do to set up your online boutique is to arrange for various vendors/suppliers who will be supplying you with the cloths and other items that you will be selling.
Seems straight forward, it is but you also need to take the following into consideration:
• Your intended vendors need to have a good track record of not disappointing customers, and delivering their goods on time. I would suggest that you test them before signing any agreement.
You can test them by placing a ‘test order’, and seeing how long it takes them to deliver. This is very important, any failure in this regard, could make or break your business. So, please be very sure before you commit to any vendor/supplier!
• If you are ordering your stock from abroad or out-of-state, you need to have a good shipping/hauling agent. So it’s important that you’re sure. Ask for documentary proof from potential suppliers before signing any contract with them.
Take Care of your Stock Items
Even though your boutique is online, you may want to keep some of your stock with you, as against ordering from vendors. If this is the case, you must make sure that the all items are stored properly.
Make sure that they are kept in conditions that will not cause any damage to them (especially cloths that easily get moulds or start to smell if they are kept in damp conditions). No one wants to buy things damaged or smelling. This could also harm your business.
Try and make a catalogue register for all the items you have in stock, this will help you keep proper stock records and also let you know when you’re fast running out of stock.
Set Up your Online Boutique Website
This is one of the most important things to do before you can start your online boutique. I know what you’re your thinking, ‘but I’m not an I.T. person, I don’t know how to go about this’. Fear-not, it’s quite simple and does not cost a fortune either! To set up your website you won’t spend more than $250. Here’s a step-by-step on how to set up a website:
• Buy a domain and space for your website. There are many you can chose from. All you need to do is search online. After purchasing the domain and space for your website, you can chose from a range of templates, how you want your website to look like.
Try and make it attractive, to attract customers. You could include a feedback page, where customers let you know if the item is satisfactory or not.
• You also need to decide on a name to call your website. Please don’t make the name too long (people don’t like typing in long names before reaching a site). Make the name as simple as possible and as short as possible too!
• Open an online payment account. You need to have this in order to receive payments from purchases. You will need to link your online payment account to your new website.
• Upload your entire stock inventory to your website (if you’re keeping stock yourself). If you’re not keeping stock you can still upload pictures of what you intend to sell. Don’t put pictures or inventory of what you don’t want to sell, just to attract customers, it will end up backfiring!
• You might like to take pictures of your stock and also upload it to your website. If you’re doing this you must keep updating your inventory regularly (could be weekly, monthly etc., whatever suits you).
For your online boutique business to survive and succeed, you need to market it in whatever possible ways you can. For me, this is the most important step. You can attract people/customers to your online boutique by:
1. Increasing the number of Visitors to your Online Boutique Website – In order to get potential customers to buy your cloths, you need to attract them to your website IN LARGE NUMBERS.
The more people you attract the more likely some of them will click on, visit and purchase items from your online boutique. In order to achieve a large crowd to your online boutique a lot of aggressive online marketing must be done by doing the following:
• Make your website as attractive as possible so that people will want to know what you do. You can do this by constantly updating your website, (the layout, pictures, videos etc).
• Link your website to other social media you use, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. By doing this, you are allowing other people you know to see your site. They are many ways you can get people to your site using online sites, without spending too much money.
• Include other things on your website, things that are not about your online boutique. You could include fashion stories, or videos.
• Send a link of your online boutique website to friends and family on your email list. This is also a good way of opening up your business to other potential clients.
2. Personal Marketing/Networking – Apart from doing a lot of online marketing for your online boutique, you also need to do some personal marketing and networking.
In other words, tell a friend of a friend of a friend and do some leg-work! You could make fliers and pamphlets (detailing about your new online boutique) and drop them at offices, cinemas, shops etc.
AUTHOR: Karleia Steiner is a well thought-out consultant on online clothing boutique business. You can reach her on email@example.com to get more information on this topic.